“around midday I met Simon Peter & Andrew coming up towards the Temple, looking cheerful & energetic. They were clearly pleased to see me, they had been looking for me, they said, because they now had a place for the Passover meal, & they all wanted me with them. I was so pleased. “did he say so?” I asked. It is hard for a mother not to put herself first with her child; it is hard to give it up, to accept that an adult child has a whole life, has friends & people & work that you do not know about, & never will; that are not your business & never will; that love means not making those demands but giving a child its own freedom. I had to learn this & he taught me “who is my mother?” he said out loud & in public. He did not even invite me in but, they say, he stretched out his hands to his friends & told the crowd “here these are my mother & my family” It hurt. I learned. So I asked “did he say so?” they had been told to invite me if they met me. It was a strange but lovely evening, the tension had not dissolved; there was a dark current of anxiety pulling at us all; but the ritual of the meal channeled it, in the way good ritual does. He held the whole room..the meal, the old pieces of the Passover ceremonies & the new pieces he gave us; he held them all for us with so much grace & intelligence & artistry. And somehow, during the evening, I was given a gift. A question that has haunted me since before he was born was answered deep in my heart. Ever since the angel came & changed my life forever, I had wondered “why me?”& now I knew. Any moderately devout woman could have taught him the traditions & the songs & the laws, but he had needed a sense of the deep patterns; a grace of hand & eye, a feeling for timing & meaning. There was hope faith & truth, but they needed shaping into ritual beauty & love. That is what I had given him, almost without knowing it. My soul magnified the Lord, & my spirit rejoiced in God my saviour. But after the meal, I was so tired I did not go out with them to the Garden. I went to bed & unexpectedly, fell asleep. Eventually a sound outside the doorway someone said “Mary” very quietly “yes, I’m awake” a woman came in with a lamp & was crying “they’ve arrested him” I had a bright golden image of him, perhaps about 8yrs old, running down the street towards me in the last of the sunlight, I am watching him with my arms out to welcome him home, & laughing, & thinking there is no greater joy than this..to have your son run into your arms & let you hold him..& he will be called Emmanuel which means “God is with us”. We did not know; we did not know anything. John came, looking for Peter & would not say why. People came & went, & we couldn’t find out anything for certain. People were kind to me, I tried to hold on to pictures, images of him, of him breaking the bread a few hours ago, & I could not. Gradually we found out. There was an extraordinary sound, like a wind or a drumbeat but human.”it’s the crowd” someone said. Eventually we heard what they were roaring. Pilate condemned him, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion. They were going to do it today. I had to see him, I slipped out of the courtyard unnoticed. I pushed & shoved through the people. I wanted to shout “let me through I am his mother!” but I could not because of his cool clarity “who is my mother?” he would not let me say it; I had learned well. I came to a corner, just part of the crowd; I could hear he was not far away & was coming towards me. I could stand & wait & when he came up to me, I would rush out, hold him, kiss him, weep in his arms. I had to. But I did not. I saw him before he saw me. I saw that he was tired. I saw that he was hurt; there was blood on his face & the cross was heavy. He was completely alone, despite the crowd. He was holding himself together with a real effort. I think he was trying to talk to God..I think so..it is hard to tell. I saw the last thing he needed was a weeping mother. He had his work to do. I felt as if someone had driven a sword into my gut & my heart was broken. Our eyes met, but I did not wait to read his expression. I turned away. “who is my mother?” he had answered his own question “she who hears my words & keeps them” it was the least I could do.” [Stations of Cross; Jesus meets his mother; Sara Maitland]
Over a thousand people joined the Community last Monday via live-streaming for the Abbatial blessing of Abbot Robert by Bishop Terence Patrick, fellow Mancunians! It was a wonderfully hopeful & promising moment, & please keep the Abbot in your prayers as he leads us all forward in faith & ministry “let us dream” as Pope Francis calls these times as we come out of the covid crisis “together” & “together” in our Parish as we walk & pray into Holy Week; those who will feel able to come to take a full part in our liturgies in Church, those of you still anxious about mixing in socially distant spaces, & those who may want to join us but will be disappointed, because the current restrictions allow only limited numbers at our Services. ..present & absent, rock & sand, swaledale & herdwick, we are each needed, & be sure you will, wherever you may be, have a full share in the fullness of this extraordinary Holy Week, as we unite in our prayers, our sufferings, grief, & eventually in the reality of Easter morning & His & our Resurrection.. Please could I remind those of you coming regularly to weekend Masses in OL&SB & in OL&HA that you need to book your place at one or more of our Holy Week liturgies no later than this Saturday 27 March 2021?. If there are any spare places we will make them available for your other relatives to come, if possible, & we will let you know who can be assured a place. Please gently explain & sensitively discourage others you know from coming without a booking; sadly there will not be space for them. Maundy Thursday 730pm; Good Friday 3pm; Vigil Sat 9pm; Easter Day Mass 10am, all at OL&SB, & 4pm Easter Day Mass at OL&HA.
Thank you to the 15 who came to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in OL&SB on Tuesday morning 10am to 12noon, on the Day of Reflection & Prayer for Covid-19. Our children & teachers at St Benedict’s PS took home a votive candle to take part in the doorstep national Vigil of Light that evening. Last weekend we had 50 at our two Sunday Masses; 31 at OL&SB, 19 at OL&HA. Do please remember to book a place, when we are so close to capacity.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. [£2,800 since the pandemic began]. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be warmly encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask..it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via firstname.lastname@example.org Please remember the sterling work of our own SVP group in the Parish, who are there, willing & able to help anyone in any form of difficulty, or those who would value a phone call now & again in the midst of the lockdown. Do please Contact Mary Borrett email@example.com. With my love & prayers Fr Bede